This FAQs section is intended to answer common questions from parents pertaining to the Fall 2020 Restart. To start, please see the full set of MUFSD "Core Values and Priorities" guiding the vast number of school reopening planning decisions. We will post new questions as we receive them and provide answers as information becomes available. Please know that all planning remains subject to change, pending conditions around the pandemic.
- Health and Safety
- Fall 2020 Planning
- School Schedules
- Classroom Space/Maximizing In-Person Instruction
- How and when will it be decided if MUFSD can open for in-person learning in September?
- Assuming there is in-person learning, what safety guidelines will be put into place?
- What is the District doing in the school buildings to improve air quality and help prevent the spread of COVID-19?
Governor Cuomo and the State of NY will make decisions around the reopening of schools based on current COVID-19 data, with announcement planned between Aug. 1-7 on whether or not schools will open in a particular region. Schools will be able to reopen in regions that are in Phase IV of the State's economic reopening and have a daily infection rate of 5% or lower over a 14-day average. If a spike is seen between when the announcement is made and the first day of school, schools will immediately close if the regional rate shoots past 9% over a seven-day average.
The health and safety of our children, staff and families will always be our #1 priority.
Guidance from NYSED and the NY State Department of Health provides stipulations that school districts must adhere to when open for in-classroom learning, such as parameters around social distancing, face coverings and PPE, cleaning and disinfecting of facilities, isolation of students with signs and symptoms of COVID-19, etc. See Reopening Guidance - "Recovering, Rebuilding, and Renewing the Spirit of New York’s Schools" - from the NY State Education Department.
Students and staff will be required to adhere to social distancing guidelines and wear masks at all times.
Since our school buildings were closed in March, we have been preparing to ensure that we have adequate cleaning and PPE supplies on hand for reopening. MUFSD's disinfection protocols will follow CDC guidelines for cleaning, including frequent disinfection of surfaces and objects touched by multiple people. We have been studying traffic patterns in our schools, looking at air flow, and configuring social distancing plans, including spacing of desks, creating barriers as necessary, potential staggering of arrival and dismissal times, and maintaining cohorts of students (set groupings). We will monitor social distancing behaviors as appropriate, but recognize we cannot fully eliminate risks associated with bringing faculty and students together and contact that students and staff have with individuals outside the school environment.
Our plan for re-opening is to operate our HVAC systems 24/7 to continuously dilute the air in the building with as much fresh/outdoor air as possible, in addition to running our 500 newly-purchased iWave air purifying devices, which have been installed in our HVAC systems. These sophisticated iWave units use a patented technology called needle-point bi-polar ionization (NPBI) to help remove any pathogens in the air and on surfaces in our facilities. In addition to neutralizing viruses, these units come with the added benefit of cleaning the air of bacteria, mold, allergens, odors, and VOCs, etc., creating a healthy environment without producing any harmful byproducts.
- How is the District planning for reopening?
- How will you maintain the core values of a Mamaroneck education?
- How are you involving stakeholders in the planning?
- What is the planning process timeline/next steps?
See the timeline of our summer work here and more detailed information on the Fall 2020 Restart web page regarding planning work that has been taking place over the past several months. Our initial planning teams at each level (elementary, middle school and high school), made up of parents, teachers, students and administrators -- combined with our administrator/District planning team -- have been working for several months to prepare amidst uncertainties for fall. The goal is to safely accommodate as many students as possible for in-person learning (preparing for transitions between hybrid and 100% remote learning should that become necessary again) and to ensure that all students -- whether learning in-person in the classroom or remotely -- are engaged in a structured day of robust learning. Attending to students' social-emotional well-being is paramount.
Please see our full set of MUFSD "Core Values and Priorities" guiding the vast number of school reopening planning decisions. Because we believe that nothing can replace the classroom experience, our emphasis will be on ensuring that as many students as possible attend school safely and, to the extent possible, participate in small learning groups. Focus will be on relationship-building, diagnostic assessment, and breadth of curriculum at all levels (elementary, middle and high school).
In the spring, we assembled a 77-member team to participate in planning exercises with Stanford University's D-School working with different potential models (open campus with restrictions, Hybrid model, and continued remote learning model.) As we continued to refine our models, we sought additional input from all groups of stakeholders on draft plans. Our administrators collaborated to be able to submit plans to the State by July 31, 2020. These plans will continue to be updated and revised based on new health and safety information we receive from government and health partners. Building leaders at each of our six schools will be holding information sessions with parents in August (after the Governor's announcement Aug. 1-7) and will incorporate into our plans any additional parent feedback as necessary.
- What are the educational priorities?
- What is the District’s plan to ensure that all students have sufficient access to technology and WiFi?
- What changes can parents expect with remote learning this fall?
- How will the District support students with IEPs?
The District plans to survey parents on their tech needs in early August. We will arrange for the loan of District Chromebooks to all students in need of devices at the start of the school year and assist with access to WiFi for those who need it. We also will engage in ongoing outreach to make sure the tech needs of all students continue to be met throughout the school year.
During the July 14 "Planning for School Reopening" live Zoom discussion, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction Annie Ward presented family feedback results from the remote learning survey conducted this past spring. While opinions varied across the board (34% of the District's families submitted responses), the majority of parents indicated they are eager for a return to classroom instruction, although remain concerned about their children’s safety. Many call for higher expectations, more feedback, live instruction, and greater accountability. The District is using this feedback to inform instruction moving forward. The goal is to be able to offer a similar experience between students learning remotely and those learning in the classroom. Our aim is to provide more teacher-student contact with more regular, ongoing teacher feedback for students. Formation of small learning groups (or pods) is a key component of our plan, whether working remotely or in school. See PowerPoint for "Planning for School Reopening" here.
The District will continue to provide IEP services to the greatest extent possible; in-person services for our students with disabilities with the highest level of need will be a priority. Accommodations and modifications will be in place to ensure that our students with disabilities have access to the general education curriculum, and their progress on IEP goals will be closely monitored and assessed.
Assuming we begin school as expected with the hybrid model, elementary school students and middle school students will go to school for in-person learning for a half day every day. Based on social distancing practices, our elementary schools can safely accommodate 50% of our students at a time. While we recognize that our half day in-person/half day remote model may be challenging for some families, we strongly believe that students will benefit from an everyday routine. Keeping students in a single classroom for a full day with limited movement is particularly difficult for our younger students.The District will do everything possible to support parents and students.
The high school, based on its square footage of instructional space, will start the year with a 33% capacity model, with the goal of moving to 50% dependent on the number of students registered. It will be important to examine the traffic flow of students throughout the building to assess whether a shift to 50% capacity will be possible.
- Is the District exploring all possibilities around the creation of usable outdoor space for classrooms?
- What additional ideas are being explored to maximize in-person learning?
While the NYSED encourages districts to explore/expand options for outdoor classrooms, at the same time the Department of Education is mandating layers of regulations and requirements (including code-compliant design for mechanical heat and ventilation; lighting; emergency lighting; power; fire alarm; plumbing; etc.) in order to use tents or portable classrooms. Extraordinarily detailed architectural drawings are required within an unrealistic, limited timeframe. Inclement weather conditions pose additional challenges. Given the backlog associated with permits and state approval for architectural projects, we would not expect to receive approval in a reasonable time period.
Our District architects have been back in the schools recalculating square footage and reconfiguring classrooms relative to mandated safety requirements. In addition to considering spaces in schools not typically used for instruction (auditoriums, gyms, cafeterias), we are investigating use of community space to accommodate more students in a safe manner.
- How has the Extended Year Program at MAS worked out?
- What is the status of interscholastic athletics?
We have had about 80 students this summer participating in our Extended School Year program at Mamaroneck Ave. School. This has served as a valuable pilot initiative for us. Each day, we conduct health checks, attend to the students' social-emotional needs and offer a vibrant, robust learning program. Mamaroneck is one of only a few districts in the region that has been able to initiate a program like this, and we are using it as an opportunity to "test the waters" for what school will look like for our full student body in the fall.
The New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) announced its decision to delay the start of the fall sports season to September 21, 2020. Additionally, Fall Regional and State Championship events have been cancelled. Read the full press release here.